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.Trauma Fresh Honors Mentor Traxamillion With a Remix

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The life and legacy of trailblazing Bay Area rapper and producer Traxamillion was honored with a gala fundraiser in February. And now one of Trax’s protégés—part of the organizing team for that event—is releasing his latest recording, one that was made with the rap icon’s help before his passing in 2022.

Like his mentor, Trauma Fresh came up in the 408, inspired by the rap style hyphy but with a sound all his own. With a prolific recording career that goes back to 2018 or earlier, Trauma has released a string of singles, EP and albums; the latter include 2018’s Out on Bail, SilverBack from 2020, 2021’s Crime Spree and 2022’s Against All Odds 3. Last year Trauma Fresh released a seven-song album, Me vs. Everybody. A spotlight track on that set was “Bad Son,” a collaboration with Traxamillion.

Trauma explains that the original recording of “Bad Son” was part of a larger project that sadly went unfinished. “We were working on an album [together], but my first single with him came out when Trax was still alive,” Trauma says. “Trax worked with several artists; he’d take them under his wing and work on a project.”

And while the two had plans to complete an album, now Trauma has completed a new version of “Bad Son”—using the original recording as a foundation—as a way of honoring and paying tribute to his mentor.

Playing a part in the recent fundraiser—with proceeds going toward support of research on nasopharyngeal cancer, the affliction that struck down Traxamillion at age 42—is another way that Trauma Fresh honored Trax. The gala “was great,” he says. “It felt like a Who’s Who in the city, almost like a San Jose Grammys. There were all kinds of celebrities that Trax had collaborated with. It was great seeing everybody—a lot of fun.”

And the new version of “Bad Son” is Trauma’s way of keeping that going. Traxamillion’s way of working made an indelible impression on his protégé. “Trax was very mysterious,” he says. “He didn’t talk; he just showed you.”

Trauma says that in the studio, Traxamillion would withhold praise until he felt it was truly earned. Trauma recalls making multiple attempts at getting a freestyle rap just right: “He’d seen it all a million times, so not much impressed him.” But finally Trauma turned in a top-notch performance. “And Trax liked it,” he says with pride.

As proud as Trauma Fresh remains of the original mix of “Bad Son,” he admits that that recording could have benefited from more time to get it the way he and Trax truly wanted it.

“My first song with Trax—where it all really started—was ‘What About You,’” Trauma says. “It changed my life forever. At that point I was just a punk kid from San Jose. After that, I got signed to a record label; I was on TV, on the radio.” The original cut of “Bad Son” was the result of their next recording session together. “They always say that the sequel is never as good as the first one,” Trauma says. “It wasn’t on the same level as ‘What About You.’” He came out of the project feeling that he and Trax had unfinished business.

But with Traxamillion gone, Trauma was on his own. “And then I was like, ‘You know what? Let’s do a remix!’ We had never done that before.” 

Right around that time, Trauma heard one of Traxamillion’s earlier productions, and it sparked further development of his idea. “The song that came on was a Bay Area remix, so I thought, ‘What if I do that?’” Trauma says that one of Trax’s strengths was his ability to “get the right guys and put them together on a track.” So he decided to follow in his mentor’s footsteps.

“I’m not as big as Trax,” Trauma readily admits. “But I decided, ‘Let me try to get this guy, and this guy.’” He was surprised and pleased at the response he got. Keeping the same hook from the original recording of “Bad Son,” Trauma says that he added new verses from “some famous Bay Area rap stars, some real pioneers.”

The roster on the new track includes San Quinn, “basically the king of San Francisco,” Trauma says. “We have Mr. Fab from Oakland, and we have Coolio da Unda Dogg from Vallejo, who was a protégé of Mac Dre.”

Trauma—who’s already hard at work on another project that will drop in June—says that his updated and revised cut of “Bad Son” was created with a goal of representing all parts of the Bay Area. “Because that’s what Trax would have done,” he says. “He wanted to get everybody involved.”


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